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How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer in the UK
What You'll Learn You'll discover the basic first steps you need to take in order to become and practice personal training on members of the public.
Why it's Important The right foundations are essential if you're going to take personal training as a profession seriously. Failing to create the right foundations could result in injury or even be fatal to your clients.
Before you can start changing lives and influencing people, there are a few pieces of paper you’ll need to obtain:
Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification (this is a pre-requisite to the Level 3 PT qualification);
Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification (although University graduates with an appropriate honours degree can also advertise and market themselves as qualified personal trainers without the level 3 via a governing body like the Register of Exercise Professionals);
[First Aid certificate];
Level 2 Gym Instructor
The level 2 Gym Instructor course is the pre-requisite to the Level 3 personal trainer qualification. A lot of course providers combine the level 2 and level 3 together which can save you some time and money.
If you're not sure about whether you want to deal with the technical knowledge of being a personal trainer, the level 2 Gym Instructor course is ideal. You can use this course to effectively determine whether the Level 3 PT course will be right for you.
If you find the Level 2 course boring, overly difficult or too technical, you might find the level 3 course a little bit too much. It's important to note that that's perfectly OK. You can always come back to it another time when you've reevaluated your career.
Level 3 Personal Trainer
The Level 3 Personal Trainer Course is the read and butter of your fitness industry training. The knowledge you gain from taking this course will teach you how to be the personal trainer within your business.
In the Level 3 Course you'll be expected to dig much deeper into anatomy and physiology, often the hardest subject to understand as a new PT.
Remember, personal training is the service your provide within your business. It's not your business. You'll need additional business skills to run an effective business from the start.
First Aid Certificate
A basic first aid certificate is pretty essential if you plan to work for a larger company or chain gym. If you don't have one, they'll often provide training to you.
If you're going solo from day one first aid is often overlooked but it's and important part of your personal trainer business set up. Should your clients have an accident, reaction or over exert themselves while training with you, having the tools and knowledge to rectify the problem could saves someones life.
Personal Trainer Insurance
Personal trainer insurance is a relatively taboo subject but it's pretty essential of you want to run a professional fitness business. With insurance starting from less than £60 per year, it would be silly not to get it.
Are these qualifications essential?
The truth is that personal training is unregulated in the UK. That means it is entirely possible to set yourself up as a personal trainer without ANY of the above 4 things.
Of course, without them, you wouldn’t be able to advertise as a “qualified” or “accredited” personal trainer, you’d never get work in a mainstream gym, you probably wouldn’t know what the hell you were doing and your lack of basic first aid training would land you in even deeper trouble when that inevitable client injury occurred. Oh and getting sued without insurance – good luck with that!
Of course, it’s just as possible to be a great trainer without an accreditation as it is to be a very poor trainer with every accreditation going. Certifications won’t make or break your personal training career, but they are a very important, industry-standard starting point.
Personal Trainer Courses UK
Most Level 3 Personal Training courses in the UK are provided by colleges or private training providers and accredited through awarding bodies like CYQ (Central YMCA Qualifications), Active IQ (Active International Qualifications) and City and Guilds.
The course consists of a combination of face-to-face tuition and Elearning. Some courses require up to 27 days of attendance (perfect for gaining lots of quality hands-on experience to prepare you for the industry) whereas others can be done almost entirely online (perfect if you already work a 40-hour week, have small children clinging onto your legs the rest of the time or if you just prefer to work at your own pace).
Whichever format you choose, you’ll have to submit written case studies, sit multiple choice exams and pass practical assessments (for online courses, these can often be submitted by DVD).
Be aware that whilst the standards of the awarding bodies are fairly consistent, the quality of instructors, course structure and fees vary massively between providers.
To help you compare and choose the right personal trainer course for you, we’ve put together a quick [Personal Trainer Course Comparison] as well as more detailed Personal Trainer Course Reviews on each of the main providers.